Facebook Pages: Do You Like?

Feb 282011

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve created Facebook pages for my ongoing projects. So if you support them, please hit the “like” button to help spread the word about them on Facebook.



Rationally Selfish Webcast:


OList Webcasts:

FIRM: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine:

Explore Atlas Shrugged:

Modern Paleo:

Coalition for Secular Government:

Again, if you support any or all of these projects, please “like” them!

Activism Recap

Feb 272011

This week on We Stand FIRM, the blog of FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine):

This week on Mother of Exiles:

This week on the blog of Modern Paleo:

Open Thread #246

Feb 272011

For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.

Preview: Sunday’s Rationally Selfish Webcast

Feb 252011

Come join my next Rationally Selfish Webcast! As always, it’s on Sunday morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. You can watch the webcast and join in the text chat via this page. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers will be my audio co-host once again.

I’ll be broadcasting from Breckenridge, where Paul and I will be spending a few days playing in the mountains with our friend Jeremy Sheetz of the Atlas Shrugged St. Louis Reading Groups. (Jeremy will soon be starting up another round of Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups, so if you live in St. Louis, don’t miss out!)

Each week, I answer six questions on practical ethics and the principles of living well. I select the most popular and interesting questions from the ongoing queue of questions. Please submit your questions, as well as vote and comment on questions that you find interesting!

Here are the questions that I’ll answer this week:

  • Question 1: What does it mean to live a “value-dense” life? What is value density? How can we make our lives more value dense? How might the concept apply to productivity, vacations, education, and social events, for example?
  • Question 2: How can a conservative Christian also be a supporter of capitalism? Isn’t the Christian philosophy diametrically opposed to the basic principles of egoism and reason necessary to fully support laissez-faire capitalism?
  • Question 3: Is it moral to be sentimental? Some dictionaries define sentiment as an attitude based on emotion rather than reason. Is this accurate? Would it then be moral or rational to be sentimental? For example, would it be moral or rational to: (1) Hold on to your favorite childhood toys when you are an adult (assuming you have the space for them), even if they don’t carry the same meaning for you now but they bring about good memories and feelings? (2) Keep old love letters or pictures of friends that you are not on speaking terms with (but were, at one time, good friends with) because they remind you of “the good times”?
  • Question 4: Are student and senior discounts proper? Aren’t these purely need-based discounts? Isn’t that unjust, i.e. penalizing people for earning more? For example, is it wrong to ask for monetary contributions for this webcast from people able to pay, but allow people unable to pay to attend too?
  • Question 5: Would you recommend buying Nathaniel Branden’s Vision of Ayn Rand or not? Given Nathaniel Branden’s history of dishonest attacks on Ayn Rand and Objectivism, would you recommend that anyone buy this book? (It’s the book version of his “Basic Principles of Objectivism” course.) I’ve thought about buying it, but I don’t want to support that man in any way.
  • Question 6: From Objectivist Answers: Should you help a man who’s dying in front of you? Suppose it will cost you two hours and 200 dollars to save the life of a man you do not know. Should you do it?

Questions that aren’t answered this week will remain in the question queue for me to answer in upcoming webcasts. So please go vote on questions that you find interesting — and don’t forget to submit your own questions.

You can listen to these webcasts later as NoodleCast — meaning audio-only podcasts — by subscribing in iTunes to the feed in either the enhanced M4A format or the standard MP3 format.

The live webcast is a good bit of fun, so I recommend that you stop by as your schedule permits. I appreciate the immediate feedback — serious comments, funny comments, and follow-up questions — in the text-based chat during the broadcast. It’s a lively get-together!

You can support the Rationally Selfish Webcast (and Podcast) contributing to our tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode, but any amount is appreciated. If you would prefer to send a check, please send it to “Diana Hsieh; P.O. Box 851; Sedalia, CO 80135.” Please write “RS Webcast” in the memo field.

Even if you’re unable to contribute financially, I’m grateful if you take a moment to help me spread the word about the Rationally Selfish Webcast to anyone you think might be interested. Send an e-mail about the webcast to friends, share the event for the next webcast on Facebook, or even just “like” the Rationally Selfish Page on Facebook.

I hope to see you on Sunday morning!

Law of Treason

Feb 252011

Law professor Hanah Volokh kindly sent me the following about the law of treason yesterday, in response to my fumbling remarks in last Sunday’s Rationally Selfish Webcast:

I was just listening to your Rationally Selfish Webcast that I missed last weekend. I’m not an expert in the law of treason, but I do know a little bit about it. Treason does not actually require a formal state of war or aid to a declared enemy in war.

Black’s Law Dictionary, which is probably the most widely used legal dictionary, defines treason as “the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of the state to which one owes allegiance, either by making war against the state or by materially supporting its enemies.”

The current federal statute criminalizing treason is 18 U.S.C. section 2381, and it reads, “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason . . . .”

Prosecution for things like espionage, terrorist acts, arson, sabotage, and conspiracy are much more common than for treason, though, even if the acts committed are technically within the definition of treason.

A person can commit treason by making war against the state in the absence of a pre-existing war. If you act to overthrow the government, that counts as treason. This idea was behind the actions taken against communists in the U.S. during the 1950s.

Confederate soldiers and government officials also committed treason against the United States even though it was not a declared war. The Confederacy took the legal position that secession was permitted and they were not treasonous because they no longer owed allegiance to the United States. The Union took the legal position that secession was not permitted and the military action was about restoring the union and putting down an illegal rebellion. After reunification, the Confederate soldiers and officials were considered to have committed treason, though the vast majority of them were pardoned.

Right now, America has many undeclared enemies, thanks to its weak and appeasing foreign policy. As a result, many actions that should be prosecuted as treasonous, such as inviting the heads of terrorist states to speak at universities — are not subject to any kind of legal action. However, my question would be how “enemies” should be defined, given a proper foreign policy. Clearly, the category would include any states with which we’re at war. As Hanah notes, people or groups attempting to wage war from within (or without) are also properly considered “enemies.” Beyond that, I could only see that the term should apply to states that a reasonable person would understand to be committed to overthrowing the US government. For various reasons, it might not be worth waging war on such states — perhaps they’re so poor as to be unable to inflict damage and/or our military is occupied with a serious threat elsewhere. Nonetheless, it would be treason to assist their efforts.


Objectivist Roundup

Feb 242011

The “Objectivist Roundup” is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome. The Secular Foxhole hosted this week’s Objectivist Roundup. Go take a peek!

Also, I’ll be selecting the questions to answer on my next Rationally Selfish Webcast later tonight, so please take a look and vote on those that you’d most like me to answer. Also, I’ve not gotten too many new questions for the webcast lately, so if you’ve got one rolling around your head, please do submit it!

NoodleCast #61: SnowCon Preview: Positive Discipline for Adults

Feb 242011

Note: I’ve updated this post with the NoodleCast version of this podcast.

Kelly Elmore and Jenn Casey of Cultivating the Virtues recently recorded an 11-minute podcast talking about their upcoming SnowCon 2011 talk, “Effective Communication: How Objectivists Can Use Positive Discipline Tools in Their Adult Relationships.” With their permission, I’m posting it as a NoodleCast too.

That talk is on Saturday, March 12th in south metro Denver. To review the schedule and register for SnowCon, go to The SnowCon Web Site. Also, you can register for just their talk, even if you can’t attend the whole of SnowCon.

Podcast: Listen Now

11:33 minutes

Podcast: Download

Podcast: Subscribe

Also, for Cultivating the Virtues:

Finally, here’s the abstract for Jenn Casey and Kelly Elmore’s talk, “Effective Communication: How Objectivists Can Use Positive Discipline Tools in Their Adult Relationships.” In it, you’ll find links to their blogs and other projects.

In our talk, we will present a set of parenting principles called “Positive Discipline” that is compatible with teaching our children to use the Objectivist virtues while behaving virtuously ourselves. Positive Discipline techniques include respectful communication, problem-solving skills, and limit-setting that is both kind and firm. Positive Discipline techniques do not include reward systems, praise, punishments, behavior modification techniques, emotional manipulation, shaming, or logical consequences.

The focus of the talk will be on the communication and problem-solving tools used in Positive Discipline, tools that are essential not only to parenting but to all healthy relationships, at work, at home, with friends, with romantic partners, and on the phone with the customer service representative at your credit card company. The talk will be dynamic and interactive, and you will walk out with at least one new skill to try the next time you are in a difficult situation with your spouse, your coworker, or your child.

Kelly Elmore and Jenn Casey have been talking and writing about Positive Discipline for years, and they practice it on their kids, their significant others, and each other. Last year, they launched Cultivating the Virtues, a business offering a podcast, a blog, and classes primarily for Objectivist parents. They also run the Atlanta Objectivist Society (ATLOS), are CrossFit buddies, and boss each other’s children in their spare time.

Kelly teaches gymnastics pedagogy to future P.E. teachers, studies rhetoric and composition in graduate school, homeschools seven-year-old Livy, and blogs at Reepicheep’s Coracle. For fun, she reads Jane Austen, watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and diagrams sentences.

Jenn homeschools eight-year-old Ryan, five-year-old Morgan, and two-year-old Sean, manages a rental property in North Georgia, and blogs at Rational Jenn. She is the administrator of the Objectivist Round Up blog carnival and moderates the [email protected] discussion list. She has recently become obsessed with knitting, dreams of performing stand-up comedy, and has given up all hope that her house will ever be clean.

Again, you can register for just this talk or register for all of SnowCon. I hope to see you in March!

NoodleCast #60: Live Rationally Selfish Webcast

Feb 232011

On Sunday, Greg Perkins and I hosted another live Rationally Selfish Webcast where I answered people’s questions on practical ethics and the principles of living well.

The live webcasts are held every Sunday at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. They consist of me broadcasting on video, Greg on audio, and the audience in a text chat. They’re quite a bit of fun, so please join us when your schedule permits!

As usual, an audio recording of Sunday’s live webcast is now available as a NoodleCast podcast. To get these podcasts automatically, you can subscribe to the feed in iTunes — just choose either the enhanced M4A format or the standard MP3 format. They’re the same content, but the M4A format breaks each question into its own “chapter.”

Whether you watch the live webcast or listen to the recorded podcast, you can submit and vote on questions on the widget on the page for the Rationally Selfish Webcast — or via Idea Informer. Questions and votes are much appreciated!

The Rationally Selfish Webcast (and Podcast) is available to anyone, free of charge. If you find value in it, I ask that you support our work by periodically contributing to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode, but any amount is appreciated.

If you would prefer to send a check, please send it to “Diana Hsieh; P.O. Box 851; Sedalia, CO 80135.” Please write “RS Webcast” in the memo field.

Even if you’re unable to contribute financially, we’d appreciate your helping us spread the word about this webcast to anyone you think might be interested. You can, for example, “like” the Rationally Selfish Webcast Page on Facebook. If you do that, you’ll see the new questions submitted for the webcast in your news feed.

Webcast Sponsor

The sponsor of this week’s Rationally Selfish Webcast is Dr. Panik of To Find Health.

To Find Health is an online community, a collaborative effort, inspired by a simple quote.

The mission of To Find Health is to facilitate the distribution of information regarding health, medicine, and fitness with a special emphasis on the Hawaiian Islands. Our members include physicians, pharmacists, dentists, nurses, chiropractors, alternative medicine practitioners, student health professionals, and the community at large.

Visit To Find Health’s Forums and Health Challenge. Thanks for your support of the webcast, Dr. Panik!

Webcast Segments

These segments are marked as chapters in the M4A version of this podcast. Any included links are those referenced in the podcast. (Many thanks to Tammy Perkins for helping me compile these notes!)

Introduction (0:00)

Diana Hsieh: DianaHsieh.com: [email protected]

Greg Perkins: Objectivist Answers: [email protected]

Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for upcoming webcasts!

Question 1: Helpful Criticism of Others (4:29)

How can I criticize someone’s work without hurting their feelings? In student theater circles, I struggle to be honest when asked what I thought of an actor’s performance, or a director’s job, or the writer’s work. The writing can be very bad and the performances pretty flat too. My first instinct is to latch onto anything positive I can in the play, and to just talk about that. However, then I seem to be someone afraid to offer criticism to someone’s face, and I’d hate to criticize behind their back. So how can I be critical in a helpful and friendly way?

My Answer, In Brief: Constructive criticism is a skill that can be developed and practiced. Toastmasters is a great way to do that.

Question 2: Evolutionary Psychology (13:48)

What is your opinion of evolutionary psychology? For example, a recent study claims that there is a gene for being a political liberal. Or another claim is that studies show that women are “hypergamous” in that they are “wired” to seek out the most “socially dominant” men that they can find in the “sexual market”. What is your opinion on all this?

My Answer, In Brief: Evolutionary Psychology seeks to explain human psychology and behavior as the product of evolutionary adaptation. It’s just the latest fad in determinism, and often depends on very sloppy science.

Links: Why Is Sex Fun by Jared Diamond

Question 3: Cheating on Work Questionnaires (24:34)

Is it wrong to cheat on a work-style questionnaire on a job application? I’ve been denied certain jobs because I’ve answered too selfishly on job questionnaires that gauge a person’s work style. The questions often ask what you would do in certain situations, if you prefer working alone or with others, etc. Is it wrong to answer falsely on those tests for a job you want and know you can do well?

My Answer, In Brief: Pretending to be something other than you are to prospective employers — whether in skills, experience, or personality — is neither moral nor practical. However, you can speak up when you think that you’ve been unfairly judged by such tests.

Suggested Reading: Viable Values by Tara Smith

Question 4: Cheating on Taxes (31:35)

Is it immoral to cheat on your taxes? It’s essentially a lie to protect the products of your labor. So is it wrong just because it’s illegal?

My Answer, In Brief: While it’s perfectly moral to evade taxes in today’s system of massive governmental theft, the penalties are so harsh that it’s surely unwise to do so.

Question 5: Government Secrets (43:31)

Should private citizens be legally obliged to keep government secrets? Should it be a crime for private citizens to divulge “top secret” information? That is, if I have no specific security agreement or contract with the government to keep information confidential if I come to possess it through no fault of my own? What if lives are at stake?

My Answer, In Brief: Every person should care deeply about his government’s capacity to effectively protect rights, including against foreign aggressors. Hence, the choice to publish government secrets should focus on whether doing so will help protect rights or undermine them.

Question 6: Objectivist Answers: Bribing Government Officials (51:53)

Is it immoral to bribe a government official? There are many approvals and licenses that are required to be taken by individual and/or companies for doing anything. But they are not granted unless you bribe the concerned government official. (They are not ashamed of asking you directly.) In that case, is it immoral on your part to bribe them as you have no way out?

My Answer, In Brief: When faced with the double injustice of government licensing, then a demand for a bribe, it’s perfectly moral to use the cheapest, easiest, and/or safest method of circumventing that rights violation.

Conclusion (59:19)

Diana Hsieh: DianaHsieh.com: [email protected]

Greg Perkins: Objectivist Answers: [email protected]

Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions. And if you can, please contribute to our tip jar.

The video for the webcast is only available for those attending live. After the webcast is completed, you can listen, download, or subscribe to the audio podcast.

Podcast: Listen Now

60:31 minutes

Podcast: Download

Podcast: Subscribe

Open Thread #245

Feb 232011

For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.

Two Funny News Moments

Feb 232011

First, a bit of a bite:

Second, a parade of double-entrendres:

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